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The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens Director of College Counseling Jessica Kane knows that ensuring her students’ ultimate postsecondary success depends on making sure they have access to supports they might need on their college campuses.

Of TYWLS’s 51 graduates of the classes of 2012 and 2013 who went on to New York colleges and participated in the Tuition Assistance Program, 41% graduated on-time and 75% graduated within six years. All of TYWLS’s students were low-income during that period. In similar schools, 25% of college students graduated on-time and 55% graduated within six years.

To help her students make it to and through college, Kane develops and maintains relationships with colleges she knows have resources and support systems for students from low-income backgrounds – and encourages students at TYWLS to consider those colleges when they’re applying.

Those college supports become a continuation of the ones they receive at TYWLS, which through the CollegeBound Initiative receives additional financial support that enables the school to have a full-time college counselor on staff. That in turn allows school counselors to help students focus on course selection and other factors that will help prepare them for success in college.

And Kane can focus on working with students and their families to identify colleges that meet their academic and financial needs, and develop individualized plans to chart out how they can get there.

Their strategies include individual meetings with students and their families to help explain what to expect in the college admissions process and setting goals for their futures.

Students also have the chance to visit college campuses, participate in fairs, and attend workshops to help them navigate the selection and admissions process.

Leveraging the school’s relationships with colleges is also a key way to both maximize financial aid and connect students with contacts who can support them once they arrive on campus.

“It is my job as a counselor to make sure the things that can become barriers for many students do not stand in the way of our graduates being successful,” Kane said. “They deserve the chance to have the same opportunities to be successful as any other student.”

Ed Trust–NY is periodically highlighting how high schools and school districts across New York help their graduates to and through college. Learn more at edtrustny.org/ToAndThrough.